Eddie Hearn in RFL talks

After his recent talks with Ralph Rimmer, it looks like Eddie Hearn could have serious interest in playing a part in developing rugby league.

Eddie Hearn, who along with his dad Barry Hearn, have built a boxing and darts empire with both sports crammed with household names. Matchroom have brought a new life to arena sports and he knows how to get casual fans wanting to watch. Would he be able to do the same with Rugby League? A sport which is big on the M62 corridor but niche everywhere else in the country, in fact its niche everywhere else outside of Australia and the Pacific Island. I believe so.

With the introduction of Toronto Wolfpack and Eric Perez’ success short term, Hearn is one man who could pave the way for the sport to grow. Unfortunately for traditionalists, this may lead to the loss of some professional heartland teams at the top end of the sport to be replaced with teams from North America. But if the sport is to expand we need those big American cities to bring money into the sport through sponsorship deals and the successful commercialisation model in place across the Atlantic.

As some people have said, rugby league is such a Canadian sport, hard hitting and fast paced, Toronto are showing that there is interest there as 6,992 fans on average watched their games at the Lamport Stadium, imagine how many fans would go if they were playing Super League teams in the top division.

It’s a completely different kettle of fish compared to what Hearn is used to, the Manchester Arena and the Ally Pally are very different settings to a cold Thursday night down at Belle Vue or Craven Park but unlike darts which was a pub game, we already have foundations to have a great product for people to want to watch.

The game needs someone who can look long term, a plan for the next 20 years instead of chopping and changing the competition every few seasons as many people I’ve spoken to are confused by the structures and can’t keep up.

If Hearn can work his magic then who knows where the sport will be in 50 years’ time. Maybe we could see a World Cup with at least 16 teams packed with world class players. Let’s not beat around the bush, the game will never reach the heights of sports such as football and the big four in America but I genuinely believe that if everyone gets on board then we could break through the glass ceiling.

My only worry with Hearn is that his boxing promotion is so successful that he may not be 100% committed to our game and if he has a dream boxing match coming up such as a Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua showdown then his thoughts may be more focused there. Maybe he could have the Challenge Cup final as a curtain raiser for the boxing card at Wembley Stadium, imagine that.

Only time will tell, and Hearn may not even want to take over the RFL, he may just be giving ideas but I for one am very excited about the ideas Eddie Hearn could bring to the sport.

John Moores students attend first ever Aintree Business Breakfast

Students from a range of courses were invited to attend the first ever Jockey Club Business Breakfast at the home of the Randox Grand National, Aintree.

Courses such as Sports Journalism, Events Management and Business Marketing were represented as Michael Owen and Sir John Timpson CBE were asked questions on topics such as their career highs and lows, tips on how make a business successful and how they’ve dealt with setbacks.

Owen, the last Englishman to win the coveted Ballon D’or award, gave insight into what it is like to retire at the age of 33 and how he dealt with it compared to other footballers. When talking about debuting as a jockey when racing at Ascot a few months ago, he said, “I don’t think I’ll ever race again, trying to stay on a horse going 42 miles per hour is the scariest experience I’ve had.”

The former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle United striker now trains over one hundred flat race horses near his home in Cheshire.

Sir Timpson, the owner of almost two thousand shoe repair shops, focused on how the employees who work in the shops make a company, not the people at the top.

The multi-millionaire shared how a previous experience led to him making the decision to target people leaving prison to work in his shops as he believes that everyone deserves a second chance.

Despite having a busy life with his businesses, books and articles, Timpson and his late wife Alex still had time to foster over 90 children over the years showing that not all businessman are the selfish stereotype.

Questions from the audience seemed to be more focused on sport rather than business due to Timpson telling the story of him being a Manchester City fan and how he paid for their scoreboard at the Etihad Stadium. Both Owen and Timpson enjoyed discussing topics such as financial fair play, the future of the Premier League and experiences with managers such as Alex Ferguson and Gerard Houllier.

William Moore, Sports Journalism Student, said, “It was a well organised event which ran very smoothly.”

The 18 year old added, “The Aintree Breakfast gave me an insight in to the sort of businesses and events that are on offer when it comes to me graduating. The talks from Michael Owen and Sir John Timpson were inspiring and helped me understand the way that businesses work and how planning for the future is very important.”

Sarah Nocetti-Haworth, LJMU Employer Engagement Officer, said “It was great to see keen and enthusiastic students seizing the opportunity to attend Aintree’s first business breakfast. Sir John and Michael Owen gave a unique insight into their drive for success as well as their achievements which was inspirational for all.”

On behalf of LJMU I’d like to thank The Jockey Club, Micheal and Sir John for a fantastic morning and it is great to see the partnership flourishing between us.

Gambling

Working in a bookies can be very exciting, live races from around the world, regular customers winning big and being so happy for them, the general banter with customers, but, more and more young people are gambling their money away.

It genuinely is hard to watch as an 18-year-old lad will bring whatever money they have into the shop and just put it all into the machines, I’ve seen people spend over £200 in about ten minutes which is probably their weekly apprenticeship wage. Why do people gamble their money away? The gambling industry is supposed to be a leisure industry and for many people it is, but also there are many who gamble because they must, not because they want to.

I know some university students, in Liverpool and elsewhere around the country who gamble because they wouldn’t be able to afford to live if it wasn’t for the odd bet coming in. How can we let this happen? How can we let vulnerable people at such a young age feel as though they must gamble to survive?

I don’t think the answer is to increase the gambling age or to lower stakes because there’s always a way around it, they’ll still find a way to bet but if you do feel as though you are vulnerable to gambling then there are people available to help you, its not weak to go and get help for gambling as it is probably the best thing you could do.

There is nothing worse than having no money but there are better options than to gamble in the hope you win big.

Yes, the feeling of winning a bet makes you feel like you’re in ecstasy but losing regularly has been proven to be a cause of depression if you’re desperate for money. And this could lead to all sorts of problems.

If you feel as though you’re not enjoying gambling then seek help, delete the betting apps, self exclude make shops. Don’t allow yourself to not enjoy your life.